Road to PyeongChang 2018 (Issue #4)

Highlights on the Road to PyeongChang 2018 from the past week:

North Korea Qualifies for the 2018 Olymnpic Winter Games… 
North Korea qualifies for PyeongChang Winter Olympics: September 29th. In the most widely anticipated story followed for weeks, today the North Korean figure skating duo of Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik grabbed one of five qualifying spots for the Olympic Games. It was far from certain that any North Korean athletes would qualify and a sigh of relief could be heard across the globe from Lausanne, Switzerland (where the IOC is based) to PyeongChang (where the Olympics are being held). North Korea participation is seen as key for reducing tensions. Read the full story here.

It is really hard to put toothpaste back in the tube…

IOC, PyeongChang 2018, United States, and France spend most of the week playing down possibility of skipping Winter Games due to regional tensions…
French Olympic Team To Skip 2018 Winter Games if North Korea Tensions Continue: September 28th. After France’s sports minister Laura Flessel shocked the IOC and the world with the suggestion that France may skip PyeongChang, a flurry of activity was set off last week. France’s statement was followed by Austria and Germany which made similar statements that set off more alarm bells. France walked back their statements, South Korea downplayed the concern, the IOC expressed confidence and asked all National Olympic Committees to coordinate communication, and unfortunately the United States spent meaningful portions of their media summit held this week addressing the concerns. Despite all of these efforts, just yesterday Powder Magazine published an online article stating that France, Austria, and Germany were considering pulling out. Which shows just how hard it is to put the toothpaste back in the tube once it is out…

NHL athletes will not be at Olympics and you still may not be able to watch them on TV… 
NHL’s Decision to Skip Olympics Leads to TV Embarrassment: September 23rd.NBC published their NHL schedule for the upcoming season and guess what? None are scheduled to air during the 17-day period during PyeongChang 2018. Some observers see this as a major snub to the NHL and their owners who are refusing to allow their players to participate in the Winter Games. Not surprising given NBC’s relationship with the Olympics as the exclusive broadcaster in the US although the IOC has been clear that NBC is free to air NHL games and NBC says they have “flexibility” with their schedule. My bet is eventually NBC will add NHL games to their schedule rather than going dark during the February 9th-February 25th period.

Where did Japan go to?
PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics organizers leave Japan off world map: September 27th. Inexplicably, the PyeongChang 2018 organizers published a map for their Dream Program that did not have Japan on it. It was quickly corrected after Japan demanded a fix. Why is this a big deal? South Korea is counting on a large number of Japanese tourists to attend the Winter Games to make PyeongChang 2018 a success. Whether a slight or mistake, this gaffe is one the PyeongChang 2018 Organizing Committee cannot afford to make with everything going against it.

Japan missing from PyeongChang map

Ticket sales continue to disappoint, South Korean banks pitch in to help…
Tensions with North Korea, China hurt ticket sales for South Korean Olympics, says organizer: September 23rd. PyeongChang 2018 organizers announced the latest numbers on ticket sales and they continue to disappoint. North Korean tensions are blamed, but with ticket sales going well globally, one wonders if this is the reason why domestic sales are going so poorly. Domestically in South Korea only 124,000 of 750,000 have sold including South Korean banks recently purchasing $1M USD in an effort to help.

Preparation timeline update: Merchandise stores open, Dream concert announced, and Stadium completion nears… 
PyeongChang 2018 open official merchandise stores across South Korea: September 29th. Now you can buy your official PyeongChang 2018 merchandise from stores across South Korea. Quick tip from an Olympic attendee veteran: Get it while you can as the good stuff is almost always gone the first weekend of the games…PyeongChang Dream Concert lineup is announced for the November 4th event, which I will unfortunately miss by 2 days on my upcoming trip…Stadium completion wraps up tomorrow, September 30th which is welcome news as this is one of the few Olympics in recent memory that has not been dogged by construction concerns.

Last but not least from around the US….TeamUSA announces WinterFest, Nabisco kicks off Team USA sponsorship and NBC’s ad sales pick up… 
U.S. Olympic Committee Announces Team USA WinterFest Presented by HERSHEY’S, Starting With 100 Day Countdown Event: September 25th. Team USA announced their 13-stop festival that will make its way across the country starting November 1st in New York City featuring a concert by Darius Rucker & Grace VanderWaal. Click here to find a stop near you…..Nabisco announced their sponsorship plans for the Olympic Winter Games by teaming up with Ted Ligety and Chloe Kim to share their “Can’t Miss Moments” leading up to South Korea…NBC’s ad sales are picking up where in 17 days of programming they’ll reach more Millennials than a year’s worth of MTV programming. This on the heels of Rio 2016 where they had 600M Facebook views, 131M Instagram users, and 33M Snapchatters.

Latest Road to PyeongChang bits and bytes for fans who are planning or hoping to attend:

  • Still a few left! You can stay in PyeongChang for as little as $50/night, but space is getting limited. Two weeks ago this was a first find on the Road to PyeongChang and had 10 available rooms, as of today the availability is down to 5 rooms. Easily the best deal for your trip to PyeongChang at the Kumkwangjang Motel in PyeongChang for $50/night. 
  • Flights prices are still relatively cheap to get you to South Korea:Flights remain surprisingly inexpensive. Round-trip fare has dropped to $669 from Los Angeles to Seoul, South Korea on Hong Kong Airlines departing February 6th and returning February 16th, enough time to see the Opening Ceremonies and several marquee events. This is down from $724 last week. 
  • Plan to rent a car? For those traveling to South Korea for the first time and plan to rent a car, you will need an International Drivers Permit (IDP). If you are a United States resident, you can get one from AAA here.
  • PyeongChang 2018 Ticket Site Watch: No changes this week, still not a single session is sold out for the Olympic Winter Games. All 208 sessions still have inventory. Reminder: PyeongChang 2018 ticketing opening up to those countries without an ATR (Authorized Ticket Reseller) on October 1st and Ticket Box Offices opening up in South Korea on November 6th. 
  • Authorized Ticket Resellers Watch: Cosport, the online reseller for the United States released even more additional inventory now with Luge, Curling, Figure Skating, Skeleton, & Snowboard. Dertour, the authorized reseller for Germany shows a slight decrease in availability this week to 178 ticket groups across the all sessions from 183 last week. Opening & Closing ceremonies still available.

Latest Inventory from Cosport USA

Ken is the Chief Operating Officer at InviteManager. He has been featured in the International Business Times, MSN, Yahoo Sports, ThePostGame, USA Today and ESPN. For more information, you can follow Ken’s blog, connect via Twitter or email him at